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Jail attacker gets 20 years

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news Mitchell, 57301
Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

An inmate who attacked a jailer in Mitchell has been sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Jeremiah Hart, 23, pleaded guilty in July to aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer for a January attack on James Dietz, a corrections officer at the Davison County Jail. Dietz suffered multiple facial fractures and a broken jaw and was hospitalized as a result of the attack.

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Hart was sentenced Tuesday to a 25-year prison term, with five years suspended, and ordered to pay more than $32,000 in restitution.

Hart was originally arrested in September 2012 for his role in burning a stolen car with several other people in Mitchell. He was charged with intentional property damage and was sentenced Tuesday to two years in prison for that, which will be served concurrently — at the same time — with the prison term for the attack on the jailer.

Dietz testified Tuesday that he still feels the effects of the attack every day — he gets headaches, has jaw pain when he eats or yawns and has pain around his eye where he suffered another fracture. Dietz, who said he has no recollection of the attack, missed more than two months of work.

Dietz urged Judge Tim Bjorkman to keep Hart behind bars to protect the public.

“I don’t want what happened to me to happen to someone else,” Dietz said.

In a statement to the court, Hart apologized directly to Dietz and said he is ashamed of his actions.

“I took a good look at myself and I understand that things need to change,” Hart said.

Hart’s attorney, Keith Goehring, of Parkston, asked the judge to consider placing Hart on probation to give Hart the opportunity to get treatment for mental health issues.

Davison County State’s Attorney Jim Miskimins recommended Hart be sentenced to 25 years in prison, the maximum penalty allowed for the aggravated assault charge.

Bjorkman said he considered many factors in determining Hart’s sentence, including the public’s safety.

“You pose a real risk to public safety, and I think you know that,” he said.

As part of Hart’s sentence, Bjorkman recommended Hart receive intensive mental health treatment while in prison.

“I think that there is hope for you to rebuild your life, but it has to start with you,” the judge said.

Hart will first be eligible for parole in December 2027, according to Bjorkman.

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